Introducing the CNE - Main characteristic
of the evaluation
The CNE stands for " Comité national d'eLvaluation des eLtablissements
publics à caractère scientifique, culturel et professionnel ". It
was created by the 26 January 1984 Higher
Education Law which has granted universities further administrative,
pedagogical, research and financial autonomy.
The 10 July 1989 Law has made the CNE an autonomous administrative
entity which reports directly to the President of the Republic and
thus is not under the authority of the Higher Education Minister.
The CNE is financed by the state and has got its own budget.
The CNE consists of a 25
members board and of a 24
administrative staff led by a general delegate. The members
are named by the President of the Republic during a ministers' meeting.
The membership lasts 4 years and is not immediately renewable. Among
the 25 members, 11 members represent the academic and research community.
They are selected from lists of names respectively put forward by
the department presidents of the CNU (Conseil national des universités,
Universities National Council), the department presidents of the
CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Research National
Council), and of the Institut de France [French Institute]. Three
members are selected from lists of names by the CPU (Conférence
des Présidents d'université), one by the CDFI (directeurs
d'écoles et de formations des ingénieurs), on by the
CDIUFM (directeurs d'institut universitaire de formation des maîtres).Three
members involved in a foreign organism of teaching and resarch.
Four members are issued from the CES (Conseil économique et social,
Economic and Social Council), one from the Conseil d'état [State
Council], one from the Cour des Comptes [State Audit Office]. The
President of the CNE is named from among 25 members. Half of the
members are renewed every two years.
The CNE aims at evaluating research, cultural and vocational public
institutions, i-e universities, schools and " grands établissements
" reporting to the higher education minister. The CNE may also evaluate
higher education institutions reporting to other ministries.
The CNE evaluates the institutions in the areas linked to the missions
of the higher education public sector, i-e initial and further education,
students living conditions, research and the use of its results.
The CNE also examines the way an institution is governed, its policy
and management. However, the CNE is neither entitled to evaluate
individuals, nor to authorize courses, nor to apportion state funds.
The evaluation conducted by the CNE leads to a series of conclusions
and recommendations sent to the evaluated institution. The CNE includes
a follow-up in the evaluation that consists in a meeting with the
managing team of the institution about 18 months after the report
has been published. The objective of this meeting is to measure
the impact of the evaluation over the functioning of the establishment.
As stipulated in the 21 February 1985 decree the CNE organises its
activities by itself. It decides on its programmes and determines
the schedule and methodology of its evaluations.
In actual practice the CNE runs several types of activities :
- evaluating higher education institutions. The CNE has already
evaluated all the French universities and about 50 schools altogether
(more than 180 reports have been published so far). The CNE has
undertaken a second round of evaluations which happen to be less
descriptive than the first ones. The methodology of these second
evaluations reinforce and precise the role of the internal evaluation
of the establishment, the analysis of which allows to select some
- evaluating "university sites" taking into account the interactions
of a group of institutions over an area (region, metropolitan area...);
- cross-cutting evaluations about specific activities linked to
higher education (sport and the students, the use of research results,
- cross-cutting and comparative evaluations as regards a discipline
(geography, information and communication studies, chemistry) or
a type of degree course (postgraduate degrees in medical studies,
The CNE also focuses on the missions of the universities and examines
the general higher education policy issues in its annual report
to the President of the Republic.
The main characteristics of the evaluation, as is carried out by
the CNE, are as follows:
- the evaluation is based upon both quantitative and qualitative
elements. It gives importance to the context, the specific situation,
the evolution and the particular objectives of the evaluated institution.
- the evaluation includes an internal and an external phase. The
evaluated institution prepares an internal evaluation record with
the help of some CNE's guidelines. (Handbook of Standards for Quality Management in French Higher Education Institutions).This record analyses the institution
strengths, its weaknesses and its future prospects. The external
phase is a peer review, consisting of a site visit and leading to
confidential reports. The CNE then bases itself upon both the internal
evaluation and the experts' reports to elaborate the evaluation report,
which is public.
- the evaluation reports analyse the way the institutions define
their project and fulfil their missions. Thus they help to keep
the public informed, and first of all the institutions' users and
partners, particularly the state and other funding actors. The recommendations
they include also make them a strategic tool which can be used by
the institutions, and in particular by the presidents and their
teams, to implement their policy, to improve the quality of their
teaching methods, of their research and of their management.
- the evaluation is based on a dialogue between the CNE and the
evaluated institutions. Criteria and indicators are defined and
discussed both by the CNE and the CPU (Conférence des présidents
d'université, University Presidents' Conference). There's a dialogue-based
reflexion over the methodology of the evaluation and the guidelines
used for the internal evaluation. The report drafting itself is
submitted for comment to the people in charge in the evaluated institution,
which president has the last word as his or her reply is published
at the end of the evaluation report.
and carrying out the evaluation of an institution
The decision to undertake the evaluation of a higher
education institution is made by the CNE members during a plenary
meeting and upon its President's suggestion. The evaluation is led
by one, two or three members of the CNE. They are nominated by the
President and may be assisted by a consultant. One chargé de mission
[project manager responsible for an evaluation programme] is then
given the charge of the the programme by the general delegate. Member(s),
general delegate and chargé(s) de mission are the people in charge
for the evaluation programme.
Two steps are necessary for the evaluation of an institution. First,
an internal evaluation is led and organised by the institution.
That evaluation is helped by the " guidelines for evaluation " and
must involve all the institution staff. It can be defined as the
way the institution considers itself with the data it produces as
a basis. Second, the CNE organises and coordinates an external evaluation
based on a peer review. The experts are university professors, higher
education administrative or technical senior executives, key economic
professionals, be they french or not.
The people in charge of the evaluation meet for the first time the
head of the institution affected and define the procedure of the
evaluation. The institution can start its internal evaluation, with
the help of the CNE's guidelines for evaluation.
As the people in charge of the evaluation pay a first visit to the
institution, they introduce and explain the evaluation process to
the people involved, i-e the managing team, the teachers' (especially
the heads of departments), the administrative staff and students'
The institution has then 2 or 3 months to collect and gather the
elements which are to constitute the internal evaluation record.
During that time, the chargé de mission collects all the pieces
of information available as regards the establishment, such as statistical
data, institution project, contracts, and so on.
Once they have examined that record, the people in charge of the
evaluation select some expertise topics and decide on which experts
shall be in charge. The experts are then officially named by the
CNE president. After being acquainted to the evaluation through
a summary document they were given by the chargé de mission, the
experts attend a meeting, the objective of which is to prepare their
mission on the spot. The people in charge of the evaluation specify
the CNE's expectancies and define the question related to each topic
with the experts.
The expert review (on site visit) is organised by the chargé de
mission and generally lasts 3 days. The experts meet the people
in charge in the institution, as well as teachers, researchers,
some administrative staff, students, and also external partners.
By one month following the mission, the experts will have sent their
reports to the CNE. The reports are confidential. The experts meet
a second time so that they can compare their opinions and discuss
their analysis, hence they can highlight the main characteristics
of the institutio and get a panorama of its strategic developpment
A prior evaluation report is then written by the people in charge
for the evaluation programme and is presented in a CNE plenary session.
Once it has been approved by the CNE, the prior report is sent to
the president of the evaluated institution. That document does not
include any conclusions or recommendations. A consultation visit
then takes place and the CNE can collect the remarks from the people
in charge. Some of those remarks can be used when it comes to the
final writing of the report.
That final report, once approved by the CNE in a plenary session,
is sent to the president of the institution, along with the conclusions
and recommendations. The president is then to write a reply.
The report is published and includes the institution's president
or director's reply. It has a circulation of around 600. About 400
issues are sent to the university community (university presidents,
recteurs d'académie [representatives of the national education minister
in a region]), to the higher education ministry managing teams,
to other ministries, to the national and local press, to the MPs,
regional communities and the affected consular organisms. A short
4-page document called " Profil " introduces the institution, the
main ideas of its evaluation and the principal recommendations from
the CNE. Both documents are available on the CNE Internet servor
The average duration of an evaluation programme is about 1 year.
the evaluation of an etablissement is being carried out